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Cruises to Cologne

Cologne (Photo:S.Borisov/Shutterstock)
Cologne (Photo:S.Borisov/Shutterstock)

About Cologne

Cologne, the Rhineland's largest city and Germany's fourth-largest, dates back to 38 B.C., when the Romans first started to settle in the area. By 50 A.D., "Colonia" was a major city, which would later become one of the most important trade and production centers in the Roman Empire. Significant Roman ruins can still be found in Cologne today, especially near the city's wharf area, in addition to 12 Romanesque churches.

Cologne's location on the river Rhine placed it at the intersection of the major trade routes between east and west, which was the basis for its continued growth through the Middle Ages. Construction of the famous Kolner Dom, the city's Gothic cathedral, started in 1248, consolidating its position as a place of great religious significance, as well as a trade hub (despite the fact that work stopped on the cathedral in 1473, leaving it unfinished until the 19th century).

Today, Cologne is the cultural heart of the Rhineland, with a vibrant arts scene, celebrated opera house, more than 30 museums and hundreds of galleries. The city has spread to both sides of the Rhine River, with the cathedral and Altstadt (Old Town) both located on the left bank. The cathedral is the largest Gothic church in Northern Europe and became a poignant symbol of the city's survival of the Allied aerial bombing during World War II. While some 95 percent of the city center was destroyed during the war, much of its medieval heart and churches were rebuilt according to original plans. Because of this, Cologne retains an authentic feel, with attractive open squares, pretty beer gardens and cozy wine taverns lining narrow, cobbled streets and the attractive riverfront.

Cologne is celebrated for its locally brewed beer, called Kolsch, with about 30 traditional brewing houses creating their own versions and selling them on-site in lively beer gardens and cellars. (Kolsch is also the name for the local dialect, resulting in the joke that Kolsch is the only language one can drink.) Considerable quantities of Kolsch are consumed each November, when carnival season transforms the city into one of Europe's biggest street festivals, with the numerous bars and pubs on Neumarkt square, Heumarkt and Zulpicher Strasse packed with people in costumes, dancing and drinking.

Whether you visit Cologne during the summer to make the most of the beer gardens and pretty landscaped riverbanks or during winter for the raucous Carnival or magical Christmas markets, you'll discover an intriguing, cosmopolitan city with bags of character. Furthermore, Cologne has a compact heart, which is easily navigated on foot, making it the perfect destination to explore from a cruise ship.

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DAY 1: Amsterdam

7 Night
Cruise to Cologne

Leaving:
Amsterdam
Visiting:
Kinderdijk, Cologne ...
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Cruise Line:
Viking River Cruises
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DAY 1: Amsterdam

14 Night
Cruise to Cologne

Leaving:
Amsterdam
Visiting:
Kinderdijk, Cologne ...
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Cruise Line:
Viking River Cruises
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DAY 1: Amsterdam

14 Night
Cruise to Cologne

Leaving:
Amsterdam
Visiting:
Kinderdijk, Cologne ...
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Cruise Line:
Viking River Cruises
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DAY 1: Budapest

14 Night
Cruise to Cologne

Leaving:
Budapest
Visiting:
Vienna, Emmersdorf ...
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Cruise Line:
Viking River Cruises
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14 Night
Cruise to Cologne

Leaving:
Amsterdam
Visiting:
Kinderdijk, Cologne ...
see more
Cruise Line:
Viking River Cruises
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7 Night
Cruise to Cologne

Leaving:
Amsterdam
Visiting:
Cologne, Rudesheim ...
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Cruise Line:
AmaWaterways
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14 Night
Cruise to Cologne

Leaving:
Budapest
Visiting:
Vienna, Emmersdorf ...
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Cruise Line:
Viking River Cruises
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7 Night
Cruise to Cologne

Leaving:
Basel
Visiting:
Breisach, Strasbourg ...
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Cruise Line:
Viking River Cruises
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7 Night
Cruise to Cologne

Leaving:
Basel
Visiting:
Breisach, Strasbourg ...
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Cruise Line:
AmaWaterways
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7 Night
Cruise to Cologne

Leaving:
Basel
Visiting:
Strasbourg, Mannheim ...
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Cruise Line:
Crystal River Cruises
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7 Night
Cruise to Cologne

Leaving:
Amsterdam
Visiting:
Kinderdijk, Cologne ...
see more
Cruise Line:
Viking River Cruises
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14 Night
Cruise to Cologne

Leaving:
Amsterdam
Visiting:
Kinderdijk, Cologne ...
see more
Cruise Line:
Viking River Cruises
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14 Night
Cruise to Cologne

Leaving:
Amsterdam
Visiting:
Kinderdijk, Cologne ...
see more
Cruise Line:
Viking River Cruises
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7 Night
Cruise to Cologne

Leaving:
Amsterdam
Visiting:
Cologne, Rudesheim ...
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Cruise Line:
Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection
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14 Night
Cruise to Cologne

Leaving:
Budapest
Visiting:
Vienna, Emmersdorf ...
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Cruise Line:
Viking River Cruises
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7 Night
Cruise to Cologne

Leaving:
Amsterdam
Visiting:
Cologne, Koblenz ...
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Cruise Line:
Crystal River Cruises
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Cruise Critic Favorite

14 Night
Cruise to Cologne

Leaving:
Amsterdam
Visiting:
Kinderdijk, Cologne ...
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Cruise Line:
Viking River Cruises
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7 Night
Cruise to Cologne

Leaving:
Basel
Visiting:
Breisach, Strasbourg ...
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Cruise Line:
Avalon Waterways
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14 Night
Cruise to Cologne

Leaving:
Budapest
Visiting:
Vienna, Durnstein ...
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Cruise Line:
APT
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7 Night
Cruise to Cologne

Leaving:
Amsterdam
Visiting:
Cologne, Rudesheim ...
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Cruise Line:
AmaWaterways
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7 Night
Cruise to Cologne

Leaving:
Amsterdam
Visiting:
Cologne, Koblenz ...
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Cruise Line:
Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection
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7 Night
Cruise to Cologne

Leaving:
Cologne
Visiting:
Koblenz, Rudesheim ...
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Cruise Line:
Riviera Travel
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7 Night
Cruise to Cologne

Leaving:
Amsterdam
Visiting:
Cologne, Koblenz ...
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Cruise Line:
Avalon Waterways
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7 Night
Cruise to Cologne

Leaving:
Amsterdam
Visiting:
Cologne, Rudesheim ...
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Cruise Line:
AmaWaterways
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14 Night
Cruise to Cologne

Leaving:
Budapest
Visiting:
Vienna, Emmersdorf ...
see more
Cruise Line:
Viking River Cruises
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Why go to Cologne?

Pros:

Art and history buffs will find more than 30 museums and hundreds of galleries

Cons:

The cost of living in Cologne has exploded, meaning tourists could face sticker shock

Bottom Line:

Cologne is the largest city in and cultural hub of Germany's Rhineland

Cologne Cruise Port Facilities?

The Old Town's strip of lively bars and restaurants along the Rhinegarten embankment makes for a perfect place to enjoy a drink or meal. Follow the steps and footpath that lead from the north end of the strip, just before the Hohenzollern railway bridge crosses the river, to the cathedral and Cologne's pedestrianized shopping street, Hohe Strasse.

Good to Know?

The tradition of Love Locks is said to have originated on the Ponte Milivio in Italy. Sweethearts stroll across a bridge together, afix a lock inscribed with their names to the structure and then toss the key into the river. Indeed, the Hohenzollern Bridge is so covered with padlocks that the bridge's operator threatened to saw them off until public outcry forced a change of heart. Local lads will often tug on the padlocks as they cross the bridge, so if you and your sweetheart do fix a Love Lock to Hohenzollern, make sure it's well attached, or your heart will be broken!

Getting Around?

On Foot: Virtually all of Cologne's tourist attractions are within an easy 15-minute walk of the river cruise moorings.

By Tram: Cologne has an efficient, safe underground tram and bus network. Short journeys (up to four stops) only require a "Kurzstrecke" (short trip ticket), but if you're planning to explore farther afield, one- and three-day passes are available for use across the system.

By Bike: If your cruise ship doesn't have bicycles you can use, you can hire one for the day very easily from the "Radstation" (bike station) in the city's main railway station from 5 euros for three hours.

By Taxi: Taxis are fairly easy to find near the Cathedral square. They run on meters.

Transport from / to the airport: Dusseldorf Airport is the best international hub for Cologne, located a 40-minute train ride from Cologne central station. Direct train services run frequently between the airport and central station and cost approximately 30 euros. Visit www.bahn.com for train times and costs and to pre-book your tickets.

Currency & Best Way to Get Money?

Germany's currency is the euro. Visit XE.com for current rates. ATMs and banks are plentiful, particularly around the cathedral, which is within walking distance of most river cruise mooring points, and credit cards are widely accepted in restaurants, bars and shops.

Language?

German is the local language, but English and French are widely understood and spoken in this multicultural city. A few handy phrases in German will always enamor you to the locals though, so try these:

  • Hello / good afternoon: Guten Tag (GOO-ten tahg)
  • Please / Thank you: Bitte / Danke (BIT-tuh/DAHN-kuh)
  • Yes / No: Ja / Nein (yah/nine)
  • Excuse me: Entschuldigen Sie (ent-SHOOL-de-gen zee)
  • Beer: Bier (beer)
  • Where You're Docked?

    The precise mooring point given to river cruise ships arriving in Cologne is determined by the local port authorities upon arrival, but the locations basically stretch about a mile along the embankment between the Chocolate Factory and the city's central railway station. This location ensures the cathedral will be about 5 to 10 minutes' walk from your ship's berth and places you in the heart of the Old Town, perfect for popping out for a pre-dinner drink or post-prandial stroll.


    Awards and Recognition

    Cruise Critic Cruisers’ Choice Destination

    • 2018 Top-Rated European River Destinations
    • 2015 Top-Rated European River Destinations

    Cologne Cruise Reviews

    AmaKristina
    wuppis
    Sail Date: Jul 2020
    it was a tour with a small train starting at the Cologne cathedral and driving through the city, 9 € per person... Read More
    Cruiser Gil
    Sail Date: Oct 2019
    Walking tour of Cologne with a Cathedral tour... Read More
    Viking Embla
    Jake525373
    Sail Date: Jul 2019
    Cologne Cathedral is fascinating and the tour was excellent... Read More
    daviajoy
    Sail Date: May 2019
    Our guide was wonderful. Explained the history of Cologne and pointed out many interesting places which we were able to go back and explore on our own.... Read More
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